L’Avant Port de Fécamp (Normandie), 1920

by Gustave Loiseau

P.O.A.

Gustave Loiseau was a French Post-Impressionist painter, known for his landscape paintings and Parisian Street scenes. He was a great traveller, painting throughout France but was drawn primarily to the Normandy coast, including the locations Dieppe, Fécamp, and Étretat.

The elemental beauty of this vibrant cityscape is created with several components of Loiseau’s signature style. The blend of foliage and the coursing river shows the predominance of the inhabitants of the French Brittany Coast for structuring their cities around the local waterways. At this coastal harbour entrance to the important port of Fécamp, halfway between Dieppe and Le Havre.

Dimensions: (unframed) 46.3 x 55.1 cm/ 18.2 x 21.7 ins
Signature: Signed ‘G. Loiseau’ (lower left)
Medium: Oil on canvas

Gustave Loiseau was a French Post-Impressionist painter, known for his landscape paintings and Parisian Street scenes. He was a great traveller, painting throughout France but was drawn primarily to the Normandy coast, including the locations Dieppe, Fécamp, and Étretat.

In the spring of 1895, Loiseau moved to Moret-sur-Loing and began painting the hills and rivers of the region. From that time on, Loiseau was to be one of the most sincere interpreters of the French landscape. Unlike his contemporaries the Mediterranean coast held few attractions, as he journeyed through Normandy, Brittany, and the Dordogne in summer, returning to the Île-de-France each winter.

The elemental beauty of this vibrant cityscape is created with several components of Loiseau’s signature style. The blend of foliage and the coursing river shows the predominance of the inhabitants of the French Brittany Coast for structuring their cities around the local waterways. At this coastal harbour entrance to the important port of Fécamp, halfway between Dieppe and Le Havre.

The impasto texture on this canvas is fascinating to explore. Rich with elements both architectural and human, especially the stretched promenade full of walking travellers along the waterway, Loiseau has chosen a nearly impossible to view high perspective over the city to look down on the alternating rooftops and challenge the heights of the swirling, ethereal clouds.

Galerie Durand-Ruel et Cie., Paris (acquired from the artist, June 1920);

By descent from the above to the present owner

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A great friend of the painters Maxime Maufra and Henry Moret, Loiseau belonged to the generation of young artists which the Impressionists recognised as the successors of their legacy. In 1895, Monet and Auguste Renoir introduced these young painters to their art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel, who two years later signed an exclusive contract with Loiseau. Thanks to this contract, in the following years Loiseau was able to travel repeatedly to Normandy. Following the Seine on its course towards the English Channel, in those years Loiseau painted the most significant group of works of his career, gaining the title of ‘historiographer of the Seine’.

Gustave Loiseau’s parents were butcher shop owners who moved to Paris after he was born. Gustave became an apprentice to a decorator friend of the family and his parents, recognizing that he was unlikely to change his mind about his future sold their business and retired to Pontoise. Pontoise near Paris was important in French painting at the time, having been extensively depicted by Pissarro and Cezanne. In 1887 Loiseau’s inheritance from his grandmother enabled him to give up his job and devote his life to painting. Moving to Montmartre, he enrolled for one year at the École des Arts-Décoratifs to study life-drawing, until an argument with his teacher prompted him to withdraw. Departing from the École des Arts-Décoratifs, he reconnected with painter Fernand Just Quignon, whose apartment Loiseau worked as a decorator. He then became a pupil in Quignon’s studio. In 1890 he befriended the myriad of artists now known as the Pont-Aven School, most importantly Paul Gauguin, as well as Maxime Maufra and Emile Bernard. This school focused on bold usages of colour and the painting of Symbolist subjects.

He first employed pointillist techniques and then re-found his pure landscape ideals – painting ‘en plein air’ – directly from nature. Loiseau developed a type of ‘cross-hatched’ technique, called ‘en treillis’ (latticework), which gives his paintings the supple, almost touchable quality he is known for.

 

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Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel et Cie., Gustave Loiseau, November-December 1963, no. 22.

Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel et Cie., Gustave Loiseau, Centenaire de sa naissance, June-July 1965, p. 15, no. 34.

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